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Thursday Kickoff: Wenger blames referee for defeat; Ribery eyes comeback date; and more

ArseneWengerArjenRobbenArsenalBayernMunich-UCL2014 (Getty)


In Arsene Wenger’s mind, Arsenal’s match on Wednesday night against Bayern Munich was over in the 37th minute.

The French manager, on the losing end of a 2-0 scorline with the German and European champions, said following the game that referee Nicola Rizzoli’s decision to show Wojciech Szczesny a red card, “killed the game.” Szczesny had collided with Arjen Robben in the box, conceding a penalty kick to Bayern and forcing his team to go down to 10 men.

“The referee made a decision that killed the game,” Wenger told reporters following the match. “Our keeper went for the ball, he touched Robben, who made more of it. Robben has enough experience to know to make more of it.

“Overall I thought Bayern made a lot of every single contact. We are not used to that in England. “There were fouls given today that usually are not given in the Premier League, but it’s different rules and we have to accept it. The game was, until then, top quality, and in the second half it was boring for neutral people. It was one-way traffic.”

Wenger also criticized Mesut Özil for his poorly-taken penalty kick, which was palmed away by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:


One player who wasn’t in action on Wednesday evening was Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery.

The 30-year-old returned to light training on Tuesday at the club’s training ground less than two weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a blood clot. Ribery is already targeting his return in Bayern’s match against FC Schalke on March 1.

“I have been able to run on the pitch for the last two days,” Ribery told Sky Germany on Wednesday. “This week I have to run well, for conditioning and also to get back the rhythm.

“Why should I not go against Schalke? I have no pain.”

German publication Kicker writes that even if Ribery doesn’t play against Schalke, he is expected to be available for Bayern’s second-leg match against Arsenal on March 11.


An early goal from Mauro Boselli back on South American soil was enough to give Club Leon an important point on the road in Copa Libertadores action.

Facing Bolivar in the high-altitude city of La Paz, Bolivia, Boselli fired a shot in the second minute of the match that took a deflection and found its way into the net for a 1-0 lead to the Mexican club. Bolivar battled back and in the second half, Juanmi Callejon put his head on the end of a cross to tie the score.

The draw puts Leon ahead in Group 7 with four points from two games, though Ecuadorian side Emelec could take the lead Wednesday with a victory against Flamengo.

Also in action on Wednesday, Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting throttled Real Garcilaso of Peru, 4-1, and Chilean side O’Higgins defeated Colombia’s Deportivo Cali, 1-0.


Alexandre Song could return to the English Premier League this summer after finding first team minutes hard to come by in Barcelona. (REPORT)

Former AC Milan forward and current youth team coach Filippo Inzaghi said that he could leave the club this summer. (REPORT)

Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj has reportedly declined an invitation to play for Kosovo against Haiti next month. (REPORT)

Schalke 04 youth player Donis Avdijaj hasn’t played a minute of Bundesliga soccer yet, but he is about to sign a new contract with the club that includes a release clause of just below 50 million euros ($64 million). (REPORT)

Police in Brazil arrested 13 Corinthians supporters after an investigation led to arrest warrants on those who took part in an invasion of the club’s training ground on Feb. 1. (REPORT)

River Plate suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat to Godoy Cruz, with stud defender Eder Alvarez Balanta getting sent off in the 67th minute. (REPORT)


What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with Wenger’s comments? Do you think Ribery could play against Schalke? Where do you see Song heading this summer?

Share your thoughts below.


      • I see both sides of this arguement, but he is whining at least indirectly.

        Did you miss the part where he said that isn’t how we play in England ?
        The two ‘superior’ English teams just lost 2-0 at home….no one cares that England is better in your mind AW.

  1. The ref made the proper call but they need to get rid of the automatic red card rule for what Szczesny did. A PK is punishment enough and throw in a yellow if need be.

    Also a rule question. Could Robben have been called for dangerous play? He was leaping in the air with his foot raised and outstretched, I thought you could not do that.

    • I couldn’t disagree more. Auto red is exactly what is needed. He can give the guy a chance to score, or he can take the red.

      He took a chance and got the red card. He knew what he was doing.

  2. When all is said on done, the blame for the debacle is squarely on the shoulders of Arsene Wenger who should be fired for a miserable coaching job. 1) Should never have started Mesut Ozil against his German national team friends. 2) In the event of a penalty, Wenger should have made it clear that Ozil, who missed a penalty in CL play a couple months ago against Marseille, should not take the penalty against a goalkeeper he is buddies with who knows his every move. 3) When Szczesny saw red, should have admitted his mistake and pulled Ozil for the new goalkeeper, not Cazorla. 4) Ditto late in the game when he pulled Oxlaide-Chamberlain instead of Ozil, who basically by that time was simply jogging leisurely around the field trying his best to look busy, but in fact doing nothing, meaning Arsenal was de facto down to 9 men and 1 pouting boy.

    And if you think pouting is an exaggeration, look at the GIF at the bottom of this story and Ozil pushing away Flamini, who is trying to get him work harder. Ubelievable

    • One the usual pk takers were not on the field with Mille arteta podolski and vermaelen all off, so why would mesut, who earned the pk not take it. He hit a poor pk and Neuer made a good save. You don’t let him not take the pk just because they are national team teammates. While you have a point that he did miss against Marseilles anyone can miss a pk, as Alaba showed a few minutes later. Also if you are implying that mesut ozil, a professional, didn’t play his hardest just because his national teammates were on the other half of the field I completely disagree. He worked hard and had the third highest distance traveled and he was attacking well until the red card. Would you say don’t play mata against Barcelona if Man U gets back into UCL because they have Spanish players? Finally ox picked up a knock and complained about it at half that is why he was subbed. Finally, yeah he took it hard, he’s trying to prove himself over numerous pundits that claim he’s a flop, much like you, and he did react poorly to his pk miss and going down to ten, but to imply he lost the game on purpose or didn’t give his all is just wrong.

      • Serious question, GunnerWill, and I assume you are an Arsenal fan with you username. Do you wanna see Ozil start for Arsenal against Bayern in Munich?

      • In all honestly I pray he does. He is capable of moments of brilliance and can pick brilliant passes. If wenger didn’t include him in the second leg I would be shocked and disappointed.

    • Ozil had a pretty pedestrian game, but the “german buddy” angle is hilariously unfounded.

      Should wenger have benched mertesacker too?

      • Don’t forget Ox and Wilshire can’t play in the domestic league. Far too much temptation to go easy against your NT buddies.

    • U have to start ozil in this game. He’s there best player even though he hasn’t been playing well lately. If he doesn’t start and they lose then he’d get killed in the media

    • You don’t think players should start in club games against their national team teammates? Then who would you start in an El Classico game?

    • Wow, the guy hasn’t won a trophy in 9 years but it’s because of a loss to the best team in the world that you think he should be fired?

  3. Was about to get on Wengers case until I went to the BBC to read his actual full quotes.

    The intention of his comments was clearly not blaming the official for their loss. It was blaming Robben and then blaming himself and the EPL for not getting with the modern game.

  4. Wenger is absolutely correct, this was a dive by one of the best divers in the game. Look at the video linked below from a great angle. Szczesny did not collide with Robben. He pulled his leg back and at most just a whisper of a graze contact. Robben is not even spinning at he hits the ground. Look at his left foot when it hits the ground. He quickly twists his foot and then jumps up with both legs and flails his arms and writhes in fake agony on the ground. As soon as Szczesny gets the red card he is good to go. Terrible decision by the ref and yet another dive from Robben.

    • The key is that Robben has forward momentum and he needs to continue to move that right foot forward. No no it wasn’t knocked out from under him. It was however blocked from moving forward. He was prevented from getting the ball and he knew it. So he did the smart thing and fell over.

      Tell me why he should try to stand up? Some idiot keeper blocks his run and he is obliged to stay on his feet? Even if he stays on his feet its still a penalty.

    • I think you need to look at that clip again. There”s no whisper or graze. Csezny makes a lot of contact with the planted leg up front which is plenty for the red and then sweeps the leg on the follow through. It’s a dumb play by the keeper no matter how you look at it. He’s plowing into Robben no matter what and he’s last man. Instead of complaining about the rules and the refs, managers and players have to adjust. Instead of recklessly flinging your body at the keeper, pull up and make a save. Robben wasn’t bringing that down and shooting it quickly anyway. Just look. If you are last man, make sure to keep your feet. It’s not that hard.

      • Take a look at the video again, TomG. If Szczesny makes a lot of contact as you say, then either Robben’s fee would have been knocked out from under him or he would have been rotating. Neither happened. Robben dropped straight down to the ground on both feet, and was still straight up as Szczesny slid on past. Robben plants his left foot firmly on the gound, and only then does he turn the foot 90 degrees to simulate contact, and he jumps, pulling both his legs up and theatrically falls to the ground in, ahem, agony throwing his arms out. It was a dive, a classic Robben dive like he has done many times before and he always jumps and throws his arms out.

      • Robben doesn’t go down because his foot is firmly planted in the turf. Look at Czesny’s leg. It CLEARLY impacts against Robben and is bent ALL the way back by the impact. Then the second impact comes as the keeper’s body catches up to the bent back leg and sweeps the foot clear out. Very, very dangerous situation, actually.

    • My last post got moderated for saying mean things about Scezney. In any case, landing in front of Robben’s leg means he can’t move it forward so at best its still obstruction and its still a penalty.

      • Yes it was. I think he may have embellished the contact, but it was a clear red card. In fact, a little more contact and one’s career is over. . .I do not want those fouls to go without red cards myself. Having said that, the series was over with that play.

    • Clear as day penalty and under the current rule (which I hate) it has to be a red as well. I don’t see what anyone is complaining about.

    • You’re absolutely wrong. Szczesny made no attempt to play the ball, opting instead to disrupt Robben, in the process both denying a goal-scoring opportunity AND colliding with Robben in a manner that made it impossible for him to retain possession and continue to play the ball, as he was in the process of doing when Szczesny collided with him. This was undeniably the correct call, whether you like it or not.

  5. This is absurd. I expect this kind of writing from certain English media outlets, but SBI writers are usually smart enough to not take small sound bites, twist them, and make a new claim. No where did Wenger say it was the defeat was the ref’s fault, nor did he truly criticize Ozil’s penalty, he said he prefers a full run in, but each player has his own style and he respects that. Read the whole interview before writing a summary.

    This is shameful writing, if I wanted sound bites and click inducing headlines, there are plenty of other websites to go to. Step it up, Dan.

    • Actually, why don’t you look at the video of the post game interview on ESPN. It only lasts one minute, so it should not tax your limited attention span. At 40 seconds in, Wenger says flat out “the referee made a decision that killed the game.”

      So rather than berating the writer here, why don’t you berate your own poor observational skills?

      • Is this a joke? You just made my point for me. Killing the game is far different from “Wegner blames ref for defeat”. Killing the game, aka taking the air out of the game. Sure he’s critical of the decision, but its nowhere near blaming him for loosing. This headline could be true of Pelligrini, no way is it for Wegner.

        This is the first and only time I’ve been critical of any of the writers, usually Dan and the others are great, so I think they should be held to a higher standard than ESPN.

      • I thought the same thing about both the headline, and what Wenger said. He stated fact, and although did express disappointment with the referee’s decision, he did not blame the refs. The red card was a red card, and yes, it did kill the game. There was no way a 10 man Arsenal was going to beat Bayern, especially with a backup keeper.

    • I had the same thoughts when I saw the headline. There is enough hyperbole and idiocy in the mainstream media. SBI has become popular by staying away from that kind of thing.

      • Admittedly, my reaction was a bit over the top, but I agree completely. I just don’t want to see SBI turn into another frantic news sources pushing these things.

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